“To get different results, you need to do things differently.”
Have we all (unnecessarily) resigned ourselves to the fact that a collection and peer review process comes with a certain level of pain? Yes, there are a tremendous number of moving parts to manage. Yes, there will always be late submissions, late-night questions and last-minute program changes. But does it need to really be this difficult, each and every year?
There are some pretty simple changes that you can make to your collection process that will save you a tremendous amount of pain and hassle in the long run. Here are just a few:
- Think about your end products first, not last.
Before you build your collection site, make a list of all your final conference outputs such as your printed program book, proceedings, website, USBs or mobile app. Then, note all of the information you’ll need from your submitters, and in what formats. Be sure to collect this information as part of the initial submission process, rather than hunting down the information later. Not only will this save time, it will minimize the possibility that you’ll end up with incomplete or inconsistent information.
Bonus tip: Also think about the internal information you might want to have, to update your own membership records in your AMS or to market the benefits of membership to non-member submitters.
- Set deadlines with the worst case scenario in mind.
It’s extremely common for submitters to work on their submissions up to the very last minute. And, it’s at this eleventh hour that the greatest number of questions and issues typically arise. Don’t set yourself up for late night phone calls. Instead, set your deadline earlier in the week, in the middle of the business day.
Bonus tip: Set a hard site close date based on your conference timeline. Then, set an advertised close date approximately one week earlier. This will help you maintain your conference plan while providing some flexibility to your submitters.
- Have a designated “database of record.”
After the collection site has closed, as you and your team are working on your final outputs—a program book, event app, etc.—where and how will you keep track of the inevitable last-minute changes? How do you avoid sending different versions of content to each vendor? Where does the “single source of truth” live after the information has been pulled from your collection site? Set up a single database (which can simply be an Excel spreadsheet) and make sure everyone is using that to track and manage all changes.
Bonus tip: If you can minimize the number of vendors you’re working with for each of your outputs, it also makes this task a lot easier to manage.
We have more tips for you! So if you want to make your next collection a little easier to manage, let’s talk. We’d be happy to help.